These pecan clusters aren’t just plain pecans covered in chocolate! An easy extra step makes them extra delicious. Plus, they can easily be made with whatever chocolate you like best: milk, white or dark! You can make them traditionally or vegan, keto or paleo.
These chocolate pecans are perfect to have around the holidays. They’re easy to make and make terrific gifts, too!
I always like to have homemade Christmas candy handy throughout the holidays, but it can take a lot of time and effort to get it all together, which is why I love these chocolate pecans! They’re way easier than some (most?!) other holiday sweets.
So without further ado, let’s make some pecan clusters!
- Unsalted butter or coconut oil — absorbs into the pecans as they toast and brings out more flavor.
- Raw pecans — pecans are healthy and have a good crunch. But you can substitute any nut you like.
- Salt — and chocolate are a great combination, giving these snacks a little boost in flavor.
- Chocolate — chopped semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips work in this recipe. More details below.
- Coconut oil — helps make the chocolate coating just a bit softer.
- Flaky sea salt — makes these pecan treats sparkle and brings out the flavor.
And to make them, it’s as easy as toasting the pecans, melting chocolate and dipping the pecans in the chocolate.
For the instructions, scroll to the recipe box at the bottom of the page.
Do I have to toast the pecans?
The recipe will still work if you don’t, but toasting pecans gives them a deeper flavor and makes them crisp.
I didn’t like these pecan clusters with raw pecans. For me, toasting is absolutely necessary.
It doesn’t take much, and you can toast them one day and dip them in chocolate another day if you need to divvy up your time – that’s if you don’t eat them all before you’re ready to dip them. ;)
It only takes up to 12 minutes to toast the pecans, so it’s not that time-consuming, and the result will be much so better than dipping them raw.
You don’t need any fancy tools to make these!
- You can use a double boiler; it can take a little longer to melt chocolate, but it works well, and it’s harder to burn it than when just melting in a small pot on the stove. You can make one with a saucepan and a bowl if you don’t actually have a double boiler pot. Or melt the chocolate in a microwave. For more on how to melt chocolate, see below.
- Using a small cookie scoop to dish out clusters makes it super easy. A tablespoon also works.
- I like to use my silicone mat, but parchment or wax paper also works and makes for easy cleanup.
- You’ll need a baking sheet or cookie tray that will fit in the fridge or freezer if you’re in a hurry for the clusters to harden. If you have time, you can let them set at room temperature.
How to store
Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. You can also refrigerate them for a few weeks.
If you want to make them ahead, store them in the freezer, and they should be ok for up to 3 months.
If you freeze them, you can set them on the counter and let them come to room temperature before setting them out for guests or place them in the fridge overnight.
This chocolate-covered pecans recipe is highly versatile in that you can use whatever type of chocolate you want, and you can use whatever nut you like if you’re not a pecan fan.
If you’re not a milk chocolate lover, you can make white chocolate pecans by using a bar of white chocolate. It can be trickier to melt because it doesn’t melt well with direct heat sources, so if you’re using white chocolate, see below for the best methods to melt white chocolate.
To make these chocolate-covered pecans vegan, you can use coconut oil instead of butter when roasting the pecans.
And, of course, make sure to use vegan chocolate.
To make this paleo, use coconut oil instead of butter and paleo chocolate. I tried it with Hu Gems, and they work great!
You just have to use keto chocolate. Everything else stays the same.
I tried these clusters with ChocZero Dark Chocolate Sugar-free Chocolate Chips and liked them. But any brand of keto chocolate that you like should work here.
I love the simplicity of these pecan cluster, but it’s the holiday season, and sometimes you want to be more extravagant.
If this speaks to you, consider adding a dash of cinnamon to the chocolate.
Perhaps dried cranberries would be nice?
You can add 1/2 teaspoon of powdered espresso for an extra kick.
If you want to go all out, you can separate the pecans to make all the different types of chocolate, making white chocolate pecans, milk chocolate pecans, and dark chocolate pecans! Then, you can serve up options for everyone.
How to melt chocolate
Although chocolate melts much the same way, I wanted to share some ways you can melt chocolate without a lot of hassle. You can melt chocolate on the stovetop, in the microwave, slow cooker, in a double boiler and even with a fondue pot.
So no matter what you have to use in your kitchen, these are the best ways to melt chocolate.
How to melt chocolate chips on the stove
By the way, since you’ll be melting chocolate for this recipe, you might as well melt more and to make these Almond Paste Cookies, better known as Christmas German almond horns, for an extra-special chocolate-dipped treat. ;) They’re terrific, and like the pecans, they’re perfect for gift-giving.
I never use a double boiler. I just melt the chocolate in a small pot on the stovetop and never have issues, but I know some people do.
If that sounds like you and you don’t have a microwave (the second easiest method), then a double boiler is great. If you don’t have a double boiler pot, you can make one using a saucepan and a metal or tempered glass bowl that fits on top of the saucepan.
It creates an indirect heat source that will help melt the chocolate slowly with a lower chance of burning it. Direct heat using only a pot can lead to disaster if you walk away from the stove.
Since you’re basically using steam to melt the chocolate, you don’t need much water in the saucepan. I’d say about an inch or two of water in the saucepan and ensure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
Most importantly, chocolate and water do not mix, so be careful and don’t allow water droplets to come into contact with the chocolate or it will seize and clump.
How to double-boil chocolate
- Fill a saucepan with 1 or 2 inches of water and bring it to a boil.
- Place the heat-safe bowl on top of the saucepan, ensuring it is large enough that it doesn’t fall into the pot. It just needs to rest on top of the saucepan without touching the water.
- Place chocolate in the bowl on top of the saucepan and frequently mix to incorporate all of the chocolate so that it melts consistently.
- It should take about 2 to 3 minutes, depending on how much chocolate you have in the bowl.
- Once fully melted, remove the bowl from the double boiler and wipe off any water condensation with a towel.
You’re now ready to dip some pecans!
How to melt chocolate chips in a microwave
Another easy method to melt chocolate is to use a microwave. It’s way faster than on the stovetop, but it’s critical not to overcook the chocolate, which will cause it to seize, and you’ll have a lumpy texture.
The key to success is microwaving at 30% or 50% power so you can easily monitor the chocolate. Allow it to melt evenly and slowly. If the microwave is at full power, the chocolate can melt too quickly and burn or get clumpy.
Also important is to stir frequently! Set the timer for 30 seconds, remove the chocolate using a pot holder or a towel, stir and heat again in 30-second increments until it melts completely.
- Place chocolate in a microwavable bowl.
- Microwave for 30 seconds at 30% power.
- Stir well and continue to microwave and stir in 30-second intervals until it is completely melted and smooth.
If you notice lumps in the chocolate, microwave again for only 15 seconds so you don’t burn the chocolate.
How to melt white chocolate
Chocolate melts mostly in the same ways, except you have to be a little more careful with white chocolate as it can be finicky.
White chocolate can easily burn, so it’s best to use indirect heat; otherwise, you’re left with a clumpy mess that won’t be usable.
You want to use a bar of white chocolate or chocolate chunks to get that smooth texture of melted chocolate. White chocolate chips use stabilizers to keep the form of chocolate chips, and they don’t melt as nicely.
If using a bar, just break it into chunks before melting.
The easiest method to melt white chocolate is using the microwave. Just place the white chocolate chunks into a microwave-safe bowl and heat for no more than 20 seconds at a time. Each time you heat the chocolate, take it out and stir and heat until it’s fully melted.
Use 30% power to get the smoothest texture. Microwaving white chocolate on high will likely lead to overcooked, burnt chocolate.
Remember, it’s easy to burn white chocolate, so keep an eye on it.
You can also use a double boiler.
How to melt chocolate in a crock pot
This method is way too fussy and time-consuming for me, but perhaps you’ve just moved into a new home and all you have available right now is a slow cooker.
If you’ve got time and a crock pot, you can add the chocolate to the slow cooker, which is pretty foolproof and requires stirring occasionally. This method is terrific if you want to melt different kinds of chocolate all at once.
- Put the chocolate in mason or wide-mouthed glass jars and set them in the slower cooker.
- Add hot water to the slow cooker to about halfway up the sides of the jars.
- Do not get any water inside the jars, so be careful pouring the water. Water in chocolate will make the chocolate seize and thicken.
- Turn the slow cooker on high. Do not cover it with a lid because you don’t want any moisture in the chocolate.
- After 30 minutes, stir the chocolate using a long spoon. Let it go for a while longer if it isn’t smooth and totally combined. Continue to stir, and once melted, use a potholder or towel, take the jars out of the slow cooker, and wipe the bottom of the jars dry.
- Pour the chocolate into a bowl, and you’re ready to dip and make pecan clusters.
Note not all mini crock pots have a setting to lower the temperature, so be aware because it could bring the chocolate to a boil, and you’d have burnt clumpy chocolate. I would use the microwave, stovetop or a large crock pot instead of a mini crock for melting chocolate unless you’ve got one specifically made to melt chocolate.
If you want to use this method with the jars for dipping fruit like strawberries, you can reduce the heat to low so the chocolate remains melted, and your guests can dip as they like. The consistency of the melted chocolate should last for 2 to 3 hours.
Do I have to use salt flakes?
Adding salt flakes gives you an extra flavor boost and adds a little sparkle to these treats, so I would definitely add them once the pecans have been dipped.
If you want to reduce salt, you can leave it off altogether.
Other nutty treats that make great gifts
These sweetened nuts not only make great snacks but are perfect edible Christmas gifts to make in advance.
Although I wouldn’t necessarily gift the toasted pine nuts because that would actually be a costly treat, I would use them for making Pignoli Cookies which are easy to make and totally delectable holiday cookies.
Other holiday sweets with pecans
- Gluten-free Pecan Pie
- Vegan Caramel Pecan Cheesecake
- Mini Caramel Pecan Tarts
- Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Pie
- Pecan Pie Bars
- Maple Cheesecake with Pecan Crust
Now that you know how easy it is to make pecan clusters, I hope you’ll try them out! If you do, please let us know how they turned out in the comments below and share with your family and friends. If you loved the recipe and you want to share it on social media, tag #texanerin so I can be sure to see your creations. Thank you and happy snacking!
Pecan Clusters (traditional with vegan/keto/paleo options)
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 18 clusters
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (21 grams) unsalted butter or refined coconut oil for paleo/vegan1
- 1 1/2 cups (165 grams) raw pecans
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (170 grams / 6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or chocolate chips (use keto/vegan/paleo chocolate, if desired)
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- flaky sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C). After turning it on, place the butter in a 10”x15”x1” jellyroll pan (or any pan with a rim). Place in the oven so that it melts.
- Once the butter is melted, remove the pan from the oven, sprinkle the salt over the butter, and toss the pecans on top. Stir to coat the pecans thoroughly.
- Bake for 8-12 minutes or until toasty, stirring after every 4 minutes. They’ll have absorbed the butter.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely - about 20 minutes.
- Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a small pot over low heat, stirring frequently.
- Stir in the pecans. Place a piece of parchment paper or wax paper over the pan that was used to toast the pecans.
- Scoop up the chocolate pecans using a tablespoon or small cookie place and drop the clusters onto the paper.
- You can use a silicone spatula to spoon any remaining chocolate on top of the clusters.
- Top with flaky sea salt.
- Place in the fridge for about 1 hour to firm up. Or they can firm up at room temperature for a few hours. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. You can also refrigerate them for a few weeks. If you want to make them in advance, store them in the freezer (don't salt the tops), and they should be ok for up to 3 months. Once they've fully thawed, then you can top them with flaky salt.